Early Stages

My Walk Around San Francisco Bay


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In about the year 2000, my girlfriend, my son and I walked from the San Francisco Transbay Terminal to Fisherman's Wharf. It's a bit less than 2 miles. After boating out to Alcatraz, we walked back by a longer route along the Embarcadero.

We have done a number of day hikes in the area -- I really hate to call them hikes -- It's just walking. You go somewhere, walk a bit and that's what it is.

In 2004, we discovered Arrowhead Marsh (San Leandro Bay) near the Colosseum in Oakland. We have walked all over that area. Let's figure 1 mile north to south along the shore. Once, while biking there, I scared up a hawk that was standing by the trail. We almost collided and scared the heck out of each other.

On 7-8-05, my girlfriend dropped me and my son off at the northern end of Arrowhead Marsh and we walked back home (6.5 miles). We live in Oakland, near Lake Merritt, on the east side of San Francisco Bay across the Oakland Bay Bridge. Some of that walk followed the Bay Trail. Mostly we walked through warehouse areas and commercial streets.

On 7-17-05, we drove to the southern end of Arrowhead Marsh and started south. We had to work our way through some commercial areas around the Oakland Airport, but we eventually went south down the Bay Trail and ended up at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center at the east end of the San Mateo Bridge (12.0 miles).

Then we started studying some maps. I looked at the San Francisco Bay Trail Maps and used a ruler to guestimate that it would take about 180 miles of walking to make it around San Francisco Bay.

On 7-22-05, my son and I started walking north from home. We left the Lake Merritt area, went out Grand Avenue, then straight north along San Pablo Blvd. We cut over toward the Bay at the southern end of Berkeley's Aquatic Park. Then, at the northern end of the Park, we crossed over to walk on the official Bay Trail.

At the southern edge of Richmond, we cut away from the Bay and walked through industrial areas to get to the Richmond BART station for our trip back home. Total trip = 14 miles. Cumulative = 35.5 miles
If the Bay Trail were a complete loop around the bay, I would use it. But it's not a loop, and it's not even clear if a complete loop is going to work out. Also, I'm not sure if I can really do this, so I'm taking direct routes.

I can't expect the woman of my life to drop me off and pick me up on demand. So I had to make sense of the myriad of transit agencies in the nine county Bay Area. I went online and ordered system maps for each relevant transit system - this includes each county system plus BART, Caltrain, the train in the Santa Clara area, etc (Bay Area Transit).
Each walk (except the early ones) required that I know the timetables and fares to get to and from my start and end points. As I scheduled each walk, I needed escape routes. If I went lame, I needed to know where to catch what bus to get me to the main transit system back home.

Then I started searching for bicycle and pedestrian maps. I found maps for Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties (see my links).

Because each of the various maps on hand (transit system, Bay Trail, bike/pedestrian) is usually an abbreviated map with incomplete information on streets, I also picked up complete street maps for each county.

Somewhere early, I picked up a couple of blisters. They've been fine since I switched from walking shoes to my trusty lightweight hiking boots. Also, I picked up a couple of pairs of teflon-treated socks from the diabetes supplies section of my local drug store. They are mostly cool-max. I carry an extra pair. Usually I stopped about every two hours to take off my socks and shoes, air out my toes, and put on fresh socks. The blisters didn't going away, but they didn't bother me either. Other quasi-medical issues:

-- Pain at my heels ended when I switched to my trusty boots.
-- A gimpy left knee - just old, I guess. It comes and goes.
-- A pinched nerve in my right hip that makes the front of my right leg tingle. I can manage this by changing my gait.

I have some concerns about neighborhoods where people get shot. I walk those in the mornings - muggers probably sleep late.

© 2004 Joseph Dougherty/ecology.org